tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC September 21, 2010 11:00pm-12:00am EDT
victory in afghanistan and the 155th day since the deepwater horizon disaster in the gulf. i'm keith olbermann. and good luck. now, with more on the nonvote on don't ask, don't tell, ladies and gentlemen, here is rachel maddow. good evening. in politics and news and civil rights, it has been a very, very big day. 17 years and coming. today was going to be it. the beginning of the end of "don't ask, don't tell." surprise. the push for repeal went kersplat on the floor of the senate. jim webb votes with the democrats. another surprise, senators pryor and blanche lincoln vote with the republicans. the bottom line is no progress against "don't ask, don't tell." not today. all the political and practical details with msnbc's lawrence o'donnell. and "don't ask, don't tell" expert nathaniel frank.
and this jaw-dropping exchange between senator john mccain and a reporter. >> find out if someone -- i don't know if they are. they do not. they do not. they do not. you can say they are. >> that is the case, senator. >> major mike almy joins us live. and the senator standing for reelection by write-in scores a sad own goal against her own campaign. "the rachel maddow show" starts right now. today in the united states senate, language in the defense authorization bill that would let the military "don't ask, don't tell" fell to defeat. senate republicans, in fact, took the historic step of filibustering the entire defense authorization bill in order to maintain the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. they would not even allow debate
on the defense bill because it included that language to let the military repeal its own policy on keeping gay people out of the military. and so we don't have a bill to fund the military this year. at least so far. and the "don't ask, don't tell" policy lives. what happens next? well, here is a clue. when i interviewed vice president joe biden less than a week ago, i asked him why if the administration was so opposed to "don't ask, don't tell," why were they still implementing it? why were they still discharging openly gay members of the u.s. military now that barack obama is commander in chief? why not at least put that on hold while the military studies getting rid of "don't ask, don't tell"? here is how vice president biden responded. >> the policy under such intense scrutiny, that study underway at the defense department, is progress being made both in the courts and politically, why not suspend the discharges of people
under the policy now pending that defense department review? why keep kicking people out now while all of this movement is happening toward ending the policy? >> because that is the compromise we basically had to make to get the votes to finally repeal it. in other words, everybody is looking for -- in my view, if i could just wave a wand, it would just be flat repeal, no one else would be able to suspend, and everyone suspended would be able to come back if they wanted to. but the truth of the matter is we had to build a consensus for this, working very hard on the telephone, calling people. and everybody is looking for the orderly elimination of this law. i would prefer it not be orderly. i would prefer it just end, boom, done. but that's why that hasn't happened. >> that's why that hasn't happened. we had to build a consensus for this he says. he had to continue implementing "don't ask, don't tell" in order to get the votes we needed to repeal it. hey, you know what? even though you may have made that deal, you didn't get the
votes to repeal it. i don't know who promised that, who promised that if the white house just keeps discharging people right all along, says they're opposed to the policy and keep kicking people out. i don't know who promised, but if the white house keeps kicking people out, that will allow the policy to be repealed. that didn't happen today. if this was a political deal, a political compromise, that involves two parties negotiating in good faith. the other side in this case did not hold up their end of the bargain, if indeed that was the bargain. so if you're the white house, are you still going to hold up your end of this broken bargain? or are you going to do what you say you really want to do? >> i would prefer it not be orderly. i would prefer it just end, boom, done. >> boom, done. that could happen. will it? lots to say, and lots to find out about that tonight and in days ahead. meanwhile, there are a lot of nonsense explanations that
have been put forth already purporting to explain what happened today in the senate. senate republicans, for example, initially tried to explain away their vote by saying we don't like amendments to the defense authorization bill that aren't specifically about defense issues. >> the majority party i feel is using our men and women in uniform as a tactic to pass politically expedient legislation entirely unrelated to the defense authorization, and is in my view not appropriate. >> amendments to the defense bill should just be about defense. that's why republicans said they were blocking this bill today. that's not why they blocked this bill. what you see here -- do we have that scroll? scrolling before you on the screen right now. these are all amendments that republicans have attached to defense authorization bills just in the past few years, banning internet gambling, opening up the arctic national wildlife reserve to oil drilling, allowing concealed weapons to be carried across state lines, increasing fines for broadcasting indecent material on television. oh, the humanity.
toughening up campaign finance regulations. all of these things have been attached by republicans to defense authorization bills in the past. do any of them sound like they have anything at all to do with funding the u.s. military? no, they do not. today republicans objected to the potential of the dream act, an immigration bill being attached to the defense authorization bill. but three years ago, it was republican senators orrin hatch and bob bennett who tried to attach the very same dream act to this very same bill. thus disproving the fake objection from republicans today that this is somehow about the purity of the defense bill. the defense bill never has anything nongermane attached to it. republicans also tried to say that what happened today was because they wanted to be able to offer more amendments to the defense bill on their own side.
that was the argument from republican senator susan collins of maine. she says she is all for getting rid of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, but she voted to filibuster today because republicans have a lot of amendments they want to put forward, and democrats wouldn't allow republicans to amend the bill. >> i will defend the right of my colleagues to offer amendments on this issue and other issues that are being brought up. the majority leader apparently intends to shut down the debate and exclude republicans from offering a number of amendments. >> so that's also why republicans say they blocked this bill today. but that's not actually why they blocked it. here is democratic majority leader harry reid on the floor of the senate saying he would allow republican amendments to this bill. >> there are a number of amendments that i think need to be considered on it initially. and i've stated what those would
be more than likely. i've also in my conversations with my republican friends, they've indicated that they want likely more than just a motion to strike the "don't ask, don't tell" that is in the base of the bill. i said that's fine. >> "i said that's fine." that was last thursday. senator reid's office confirming to us today that his insistence was that democrats get their amendments through, and then they would consider republican amendments. this whole argument that republicans weren't being allowed to amend the bill? it's not true. it is made up. the technical term for that is mullarkey. john mccain and republicans also said today that this was about deferring to the military, that congress shouldn't change the policy on gay people serving openly before the military itself has a chance to study it. >> why are we now trying to jam this thing through without the survey being completed and without a proper assessment of its impact?
let us hear from the men and women who are serving in the military. >> strike 3. that's also why republicans say they blocked this bill today, but that's not actually why they blocked it. the language in the bill that republicans filibustered today is not actually a repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. the language would allow the military to sign off on a repeal if their existing current ongoing study of it so indicated. when bill clinton instituted this policy in the early 1990s, congress wrote it into law. what this amendment does is say if the military studies it and decides they can get rid of the policy safely, this would take the law off the books. essentially, at the military's instruction. republicans say this bill didn't sufficiently defer to the military, and that's why they're blocking it. that is not why they blocked it. the bill put the whole question in the military's hands. it was not about that. it's also not about non-germane amendments being attached to bill.
it's not about republicans wanting to add their own amendments to the bill and being prevented from doing so. republicans say those are all of the reasons why they blocked this bill today. but none of those are the reason why they did it. but none of those are the reason why's they did it. demonstrably. the defense authorization bill has passed the house in the senate 48 years in a row now, ever since 1962. today republicans did a historic thing. they chose to block funding for the entire u.s. military, and they did it not because of any of that window dressing procedural stuff they are trying to hide behind today. they did it because they want to keep this anti-gay policy in place. this is about the gays. they tried to dress it up as being about all these other things, all these process things. it's not about any of those other things. it is about the gays. and sometimes that manages to bleed through all the nonsense. >> all of america is watching, and they don't think that the defense authorization bill in times of war would -- is the appropriate thing to do to advance a far left liberal
agenda. what is that liberal agenda? the liberal agenda is to have open gays serving in the military. >> i just think that's dangerous to say this is not going to have a corrosive impact on the men and women in the military is a mistake. and it won't be able to be passed next year, maybe after the american people have sent some new senators to this senate. maybe then it won't be so popular. and have so much support. >> senators, your culture war is showing. so what happens next? president obama's on record. he is on tape, promising to end "don't ask, don't tell" this year in 2010. >> this year i will work with congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. >> this year president obama said back in january it is a promise that he has made in public. it is a promise that he has also made in private. it is a private promise that he made to people whose lives are being ruined by this policy right now while he is still
commander in chief. >> i basically told him that i am currently being discharged under "don't ask, don't tell." and i told him the situation for me was urgent and i needed his help. he looked me right in the eye and said we're going to get this done. >> we are going to get this done. not to get craven here, but here is the polling that has been done about "don't ask, don't tell" recently. overall, 75% of american says repeal "don't ask, don't tell." look at the number among republicans. 64% of republicans support repealing "don't ask, don't tell." 75% of independents. and look at the number among democrats. 80% say repeal it. a, this is a promise that president obama has made. b, republicans are totally caught with their pants down on this. they're on the wrong side of public opinion on this by a mile. and c, democrats do have this little problem with the enthusiasm of their base in this election season. the whole reason the white house says it won't suspend, it wouldn't suspend the implementation of this policy,
that it wouldn't stop kicking people out while the military study on this is still pending is because they say they agreed not to as part of the political deal. they gave that up in exchange for enough votes in the senate to repeal "don't ask, don't tell." those votes did not turn up today when they were supposed to. whoever democrats negotiated with did not keep up their end of the bargain. the white house could decide right now tonight to stop implementation of this policy pending the military's review. the right wants a culture war against gay people? that's a war that in 2010 anti-gay politicians lose and pro civil rights politicians win. does the white house leave that on the table and walk away? or do they try to win? do they try to do well politically by doing what they say is right for the country? do they do it? what happens next? [ male announcer ] what is performance?
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plus this -- >> we do not go out and see, find out if someone is gay or not. i don't know if they are not. i know they don't go out. they do not. they do not. they do not. you can say they are. it's not true. >> that is the case of mike almy. >> senator john mccain apparently does not understand the faintest thing about the policy he filibustered today. major mike almy, formally of the air force, the man whose case bewildered john mccain today will be joining us live in just a minute.ck and -do the times you tried quitting... ♪ ...then started again. but every smoker was a non-smoker once. and you could be again. for many, smoking is a treatable medical condition. so talk to your doctor about prescription treatment options and support. and make this time, your time.
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successfully filibustered the whole defense bill to stop the military from being allowed to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. first jim webb. lots of reporting before the vote suggesting that even though he is a democrat, he was going to side with republicans on the filibuster. he did not do so. senator webb put out a statement today indicating his continued hostility to repealing "don't ask, don't tell," but he said the defense bill should not be filibustered. second, the two democratic senators from arkansas, blanche lincoln and mark pryor, neither on the national radar as party-switchers on this vote. but both voted with republicans to filibuster today. with no apparent sense of irony, both senators also putting out statements today exclaiming in passionate terms how much the defense bill deserved a debate. a debate that couldn't happen because both senators voted with republicans to keep it from coming up for debate. also up is down, black is white, hippos are skinny, and blanche lincoln is going to win reelection this year. joining us now is msnbc's own lawrence o'donnell.
the last word with lawrence o'donnell premieres monday night at 10:00 p.m. eastern on msnbc about which we are all very, very excited. lawrence, thank you so much. >> but you excite so easily. >> i do. i'm excitable. it's nerves, you know. have i the nerves. what happened today? republicans said they wanted to introduce amendments. harry reid said he wasn't opposed to that, and then republicans voted against it anyway. what really happened? >> well, you know, each one of them is citing a different senate tradition and protocol to support their position. they're is a tradition of unlimited amendments in the senate. but the way the senate actually works is the leaders on each side make an agreement. let's limit the agreements to this, this many. sometimes limit it to 100. it doesn't have to be some tiny little thing. but let's understand what the road map is when we take this bill out here. even if one party is opposed to it, they're going to allow the bill to go to the floor, and then, you know, vote against it
on the floor. and cloture normally was only necessary to get to a final vote in the old senate. by the old senate i mean the senate of six or seven years ago. >> so the key point, though. filibustering a bill to stop it from even coming up for debate. >> that's a new trick. >> to head off at the pass even the possibility of any amendments is new. it used to be that you filibustered it once you knew what the bill was. >> right. and one of the reasons you filibustered it is the amendment process didn't go your way. you tried to get six or seven amendments in there. they were all defeated so you say i don't like this bill. i'll do anything to stop it. to take the most controversial bill of the clinton presidency, the most controversial bill of the decade of the 1990s was hillary clinton's health care bill, which when i was working the senate then, we brought it out on to the senate floor. there was no opposition to bringing it out on to the senate floor. we debated it on the senate floor. the republicans offered amendment after amendment. they, by the way, were very successful with those amendments. they killed the bill on the floor through the debating process which they handled very effectively.
this is a new tactic. we're not going to even debate it. and i think carl levin made this crucial point to senator collins when she was saying you know, we want to have more amendments. levin said okay. let the bill come to the floor. we'll start the amendment process. >> right. that's what you say you want. >> right. and what levin was doing was saying in effect hey, this is the way it worked for my first 20 years here. you know. and you're seeing that in today's senate, the last few years in the senate. you see people very passionately arguing that this isn't the way it works or it has worked. and they're right. but there is a new senate that is this real obstructionist. we're going to start the obstruction early. there is a laziness to this. there is a -- what the republicans get out of this by saying you know what? we don't even want to waste the time debating on the floor. we want to stop the action now so we can rush off and make fundraising phone calls instead of let the bill go to the floor, slug it out, try your
amendments, and then do the cloture vote. they don't want to do any of the work that takes place on the senate floor in what used to be the normal senate. >> and you see the old language being carried over into the new senate, which makes them all look so stupid. >> right. >> which are these arguments. this deserves a debate. that's why i'm voting to not debate it. who are you talking about? >> what is going to be interesting, if we do see a minority democrat group in the senate next year, i expect to see some of the same tactics employed by them that is employed -- because that's what happens. >> you never will. >> there is this contagious across the aisle thing that happens. once you see the other side play the game that way, and now it's your turn, it is very likely they will play the game that way. so you'll see on some other set of issues exactly the same dynamics reversed. >> i don't believe you. >> because the democrats are too honorable for that. >> because there is no such thing as a democratic jim demint. i haven't yet seen anybody going there throwing that many bombs.
>> you know, it doesn't even have to be that. i think it's something the democratic leader, be it harry reid or someone else could actually lead the way mcconnell does. mcconnell is a reasonable man compared to demint. and mcconnell is leading these things to do them this way. he is the one who is saying let's change the senate into making this a reasonable tactic to use. >> wow. >> and the people have been around for a while, they can't really quite believe it's happening. and by the way, some of the republican moderates don't want to play this game. but in moments like this, the party pressure is something that they simply can't deny. for susan collins, it's easier for her. she had a choice today between party and her own position. and it was easier for her to choose party when all the dust cleared. >> "the last word with lawrence o'donnell" premiers monday night at 10:00 eastern right here on msnbc. that's why we're all waiting with baited breath.
>> i've got the best lead-in cable television. >> it's very kind of you -- sort of. thank you, lawrence. we now turn to nathaniel frank, the author of the book "unfriendly fire, how the gay ban undermines the military and weakens america." nathaniel, thank you very much for your time. >> good to see you again, rachel. >> i know you've been pretty optimistic over time that we were on the verge of repealing "don't ask, don't tell." what is your reaction to the loss in the senate? >> well, it's a profound leadership failure. this is a policy that the american public wants to see repealed. it's a policy that increasingly the military itself, the secretary of defense, joint chiefs of staff. and polls show that military opposition among the troops is dropping. to see it go up in flames today is of course disappointing. you're right. i have been optimistic and haven't had the best track record on that. but still, we've come a long, long way since 1993 in terms of the culture where the military is and what the research says on this court case striking it down. so i remain optimistic, but certainly this is a setback.
>> the white house said that it would not suspend implementation of the policy, wouldn't stop kicking gay people out as a compromise to get the votes for repeal. whoever told them they'd get the votes did not tell them the truth. does it seem possible that the white house would consider stopping kicking people out of the military pending the military's study being released in january? >> it's important to understand that is an option. i think there are three options now forward. one is that during the lame duck session of congress, although it's going to be tough, it is possible for congress, for the senate to actually do this. a second is an executive order. and there is documentation by lawyers for how this is an option under stop-loss powers of the white house to suspend this, as you've been saying. that is an option. and the third is to decide for the president to decide not to appeal a federal court case what has recently struck this policy down. and that's an option too. it looks like the president thinks this policy is unconstitutional, even though he hasn't said that.
the court judge herself cited the president, saying this policy has failed to achieve its purpose, and it actually undermines national security rather than protecting it. all the research is in. all the evidence is in. and these are options. i'm not going to hold my breath about what the white house is going to do. but it's very important to understand that they do have options. >> in terms of those three options, again, not asking you to speculate on things you do not know about. but would each of those have the same effectiveness? would each of those be the same sort of death knell for the policy, or would one of those be temporary, one of those be a half measure? is one of those things a more final way to approach it? >> well, i do agree that going through the congress is the most permanent and is the preferable way to do this. congress wrote this into law, keep in mind that it was -- "don't ask, don't tell" was born as an amendment to the defense spending bill. so it would be just for it to disappear that way. an executive order could potentially be reversed, but it's very hard to put the toothpaste back in the tube when you say people can serve openly.
what are you going to do? tell everyone to forget who is gay? it really doesn't work operationally. and the court case i think is one of the more likely now is for the president to say this actually is unconstitutional. and although there is a tradition of defending standing law, it's not obligated to defend a policy that it believes is unconstitutional. and that would certainly be a good way to go too. >> historian nathaniel frank, author of the book "unfriendly fire: how the gay ban undermines the military and weakens america." it's good to have you on the show tonight. thanks for joining us. >> thank you so much, rachel. glen greenwald still to come tonight. plus, a spelling error makes a very bad political situation very much worse for one beleaguered republican senator. that's all coming up. ♪ [ male announcer ] at ge capital, we're out there every day with clients like jetblue --
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the last time a write-in candidate got elected to the united states senate, the year was 1954. the candidate was strom thurmond. now lisa murkowski is trying to duplicate his achievement. she is doing this from the state of alaska, where no state-in candidate has ever won. but the challenges of running a write-in campaign were not daunting enough, the republican party in washington is considering making things just that much harder for alaska's senior senator. tomorrow her fellow republicans in the senate are expected to vote on whether to punish
senator murkowski by stripping her of her leadership position on the energy committee. jeff session already publicly lobbying it at politico.com today to have senator murkowski demoted and stripped of her senate power. so much for the whole collegiality of the senate thing. with the senate turning on her rather viciously, with the tea party groups ripping her to shreds saying the write-in campaign shows utter contempt for the people of alaska even as the same groups remote christine o'donnell after she lost in republican primary in 2006. with all the long odds she is facing and all the myriad craven enemies who would have thought that lisa murkowski would also have to put up with guff from her own campaign. a new online ad posted last night used the look of a 1950s-style psa to show how to
cast a write-in vote. first fill in the bubble on the ballot and then write in her name and voting absentee, you put that in the mail. the goal was to show how easy it is to write in her name. the end of the ad rather undercut that message. >> write it in, and send it in. >> i'm lisa murkowski, and approved this message. >> the school children in the ad had no problem spelling lisa murkowski's name, but whoever produced the ad for her campaign clearly did, asking voters to visit lisa murkwksi.com. her campaign quickly fixed the ad, but not before someone actually registered lisa murkski.com telling people to vote for the official candidate joe miller. lisa murkowski's campaign is now
laughing off the gaffe, arguing that people don't even have to spell her name properly on the ballot because the director of the alaska division of elections just has to determine a voter's intent in order to count a write-in ballot. they say a spelling mistake should not disguise intent that said in what could prove to be yet another blow to murkowski's chances, alaska's attorney general is now apparently reviewing that whole issue. oh, l-i-s-a m-u-r-k-s-k-w-i, you are not having an easy time of this. but think how f-u-n it's going to be. the fun, the fast, the solid glk. see your authorized dealer for exceptional offers through mercedes-benz financial.
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since christine o'donnell was chosen as the republican party senate nominee from delaware last week, that has provided some competition for sharron angle as the face of the republican class of 2010 for this year's elections. as the personification of the post-bush, post-mccain republican party, and its very quotable beliefs. but sharron angle isn't taking this challenge to her media primacy laying down. she travelled to utah for an event sponsored by the john birch society, famous for being kicked out of respectable
politics in the 1960s by william f. buckley and company because they didn't want how crazy the john birchers were to be conflated with the rest of conservatives. the john birch society also famous for contending that president eisenhower, yes, ike, was not only a communist but an agent of the soviet union secretly controlled by his brother. famous for leading the charge in putting fluoride in drinking water because it was secret mind control plot. so sharron angle this weekend went to a john birch society event in utah and told the assembled crowd, quote, this is mainstream america. the john birch society and the fluoride. again, this is mainstream america. quoting sharron angle there. the john birch society is not mainstream america. it may be mainstream republican politics right now. sharron angle is in fact opposed
to fluoride. but mainstream america, the john birch society, no. no, no, no, no, no, no. do you believe that president eisenhower was a soviet agent? you don't? then no. no, okay? no. joining us now for the interview is glenn greenwald, attorney, author and blogger for salon.com. glen, it's great to see you. thanks for being here. >> thank you. >> is the whole idea of mainstream, what makes a person electable, is it influx? s that political center moved very far to the right this year? >> i'm really unpersuaded by that claim. i certainly understand the view and don't doubt the view, the claim that this new crop of tea party candidates is quite radical and extremist. no rax rational person could doubt that. but i don't think it's radically more radical than prior generations of republican leaders to say that is obscure trivlized how radical republican leaders were. if you look for example at the last decade we had george bush
and dick cheney starting an aggressive war that killed 100,000 people at least and instituting a worldwide torture regime and instituting powers that are tyrannical and probably before that newt gingrich was the leader of the republican throughout the 1990s. he was speaker of the house. before that reagan radicals. reagan was elected on a platform of eliminating federal agencies like department of education. he tried to put robert bourque on the supreme court. is this current crop of candidates radical and extremists? absolutely. are they significantly more so than prior republicans? i don't think so. >> the fight over "don't ask, don't tell" today, one of the other issues with that was the dream act. so this dream act is an immigration measure. the last time -- one of the things i pointed out in talking about republican hypocrisy on that today was orrin hatch and bob bennett of utah who tried to
put the dream act on the defense authorization bill the last time around. the idea that republicans would do that now, that orrin hatch wouldn't be in huge trouble if he tried to do that now. senator bob bennett already turfed out. they have clearly taken some turn to the right just within the last decade, haven't they? >> again, i think that is sort of relative. if you look back to the 1990s, for example, there were leaders of the republican party who actually thought that bill clinton or hillary clinton had vince foster murdered. in the case of hillary because she was caring on a secret affair with him, and they were calling for special prosecutors and they impeached a two-time highly popular elected president over a very petty sex scandal. and they were talking about all sorts of very extremist acts in terms of religious conservatism. jesse helms was head of the senate foreign relations committee, threatened bill clinton he better not go on military bases less he be assassinated. it is the case since barack obama has been elected obstructionism has been the theme of republicans? absolutely. but the republicans were almost as much in lock-step during the bush years when they were
supporting all of those extremist and radical policies with very little dissent. >> glen, another you have been writing about is russ feingold facing an uphill battle against ron johnson. i know you introduced senator feingold recently. why do you think he is so important to democratic politics right now? >> he is in real danger because of this enthusiasm gap. and senator feingold's entire career has been driven by political courage and conviction, the logistic of which on the part of the democratic party generally is why there is an enthusiasm gap in the first place. and it would be a really bitter irony if the democratic party's inability to convince its own voters that it's willing to fight for what they believe in sweeps out of the senate an individual who has spent years, really decades fighting for progressive values, often at the risk of his own political standing. he is from a purple state, and yet has taken some of the most courageous positions the democratic party has offered in the last two decades. >> let me ask you one last question briefly on larry summers, largely seen as the architect of the obama administration's economic
policies, announced today he is leaving at the end of the year. do you have any reaction that? >> well, i guess you could say better late than never. and that would be the most complimentary thing. this is obviously long overdue. larry summers by all accounts was really the architect of the deregulation policies in the '90s that led to wall street's ability to run rampant. and that caused the financial crisis in the first place. he never should have been in that position. clearly his policies advising president obama have been a failure on most levels. and i think that it certainly can only get better and not worse whoever it is who ends up replacing him. >> glenn greenwald of salon.com. always interesting and provocative to talk to you. we get so much mail when we have you on the show. it's such a pleasure. >> i know you love mail. >> great to see you. coming up on "countdown," christine o'donnell's fantastic reason for not wanting so-called czars in the administration. and on this show, two u.s. senators, one al franken with an impassioned plea on behalf of gay troops. and the other a bewildered and angry john mccain. confused and wrong on the facts, repeating himself and snapping
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i say there is one thing i don't understand is the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. i mean we all know that brave gay men and women have served in this country's uniform throughout its history. and we have this policy. i mean take for example general smith. and i pointed to the commander of the base. i say now here is one of the bravest men ever in the history of our country to don our nation's uniform and battle, and yet he is one of the gayest men i've ever met. and they started laughing and cheering. i say now why should general smith have to stay in the closet? when he is such a great leader. general smith, stand up and wave. and he got up and waved and everyone cheered.
and then the bleachers there was a group of women soldiers who cheered extra loud and waved at him and he waved back at them. and at the end of the show, the general -- at the very end of the show, we sang "american soldier" by toby keith. i don't know if you know that song, but it's a beautiful song. and i'll always have this from doing uso tours was seeing soldiers with their arms around each other crying and singing. i don't do it for the money. i got bills that i can't pay. and at the end of the show, the general came up and he gave this beautiful frame with an american flag that had flown over the base.
and he gave it to every member of our troop. don't ask, don't tell jokes. i think he may have some fans up there. and he pointed at those women. and later those women came up to me and said, we're gay. and they're all -- i mean -- i think everybody knew it. and this was 2006. this is when it was really hard for the military to recruit people. and so they gave waivers out at that time. i swear if you ask every man and woman on that base who would you rather have standing to your right and standing on your left, a gay man or a gay woman who's been serving with you the last
year or somebody that comes in here with a moral waiver and those troops that have moral waivers, many served very honorably and bravely, or someone with a cognitive waiver. many of those flourished in the military, are doing great things. but if you ask that of them, they'd say, i want that gay soldier, i want that lesbian soldier who i know and has been on my right and on my left. all gay and lesbian service members want to be able to serve. >> minnesota senator al franken speaking today on the senate floor just after republicans filibustered the entire defense authorization bill, the bill mapping out future spending for the whole military, just so they could stop the part of it that would let the military repeal the ban on gay people serving. the super-fast absorbency of always ultra helps keep you in the saddle. in fact, no other ultra absorbs faster.
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senator john mccain led today's successful fill la bust other of the defense bill in order to block the repeal of don't ask, don't tell. when it was all over he this this extraordinary exchange with journalists. this was immediately following the vote. he's speaking with the odd va cat magazine and metro weekly's chris geithner. >> regulations are we do not go out and seek to find out someone's sexual orientation. >> but senator that's not. >> that is the fact. that is the fact. i know the military very well. and i know what's being done. and what is being done is that they're not seeking out people who are gay. and i don't care what you say. i know it's a fact. >> it's not what i say. >> i don't care what you say and i don't care what others say. i've seen it in action. i have sons in the military. i know the military very well. they're not telling you the truth. >> senator, just to make sure -- >> just to make sure, we do not
go ow and seek out and find out. >> private e-mails, private e-mails are not searched. >> we do not go out and see if someone is gay or not. we do not go out and seek to find out whether someone is gay or not. >> i know they know -- >> there are documented cases of it. >> they do not. you can say that they are. >> it's not true. >> that is the case with mike almy, senator. >> it is not the policy. it is not the policy. it is not the policy. it is not the policy. it's not the policy. it's not the policy. you can say that it is the policy if you choose to. it is not the policy. i'll be glad to get that to you in writing. >> joining us now is major mike almy, regardless of what senator mccain believes was discharged under don't ask, don't tell after the military searched his private e-mails. >> good to be here again. >> let me get your response to
what senator mccain said today. >> i was literally quite stunned when i first heard it. i just heard it this evening. and i was quite shocked. as you know, i testified before the senate armed services committee in march and told my story. senator mccain was there. he sat 20 feet away from me and he listened to every word of my testimony. for him to make that statement today that the military does not search private e-mails tells me that he either didn't listen to my testimony in this past march, he forgot what i said, or he's being deliberately deceptive with the american public about the true nature of don't ask, don't tell and using partisan politics over the interests of national security. the simple truth is the air force searched my private e-mails in 2005 in iraq during the height of the insurgency they launched an investigation solely to look into my private e-mails, solely to determine if i had violated don't ask, don't tell and to find whatever evidence they could use against me. and those e-mails searched in
iraq were the sole basis of my discharge from the air force, despite never once making a statement to the air force that had violated don't ask, don't tell. my entire 13-year service career. so for senator mccain to make that allegation, i'm just dumbfounded about where he comes up with that type of explanation, that type of an answer to a reporter and to be quite honest with you, i'm very angry at that statement today. >> at one point senator mccain volunteered, bring him to our offices. sits there with lindsey graham. do you have plans to visit them to tell them this in person, remind them of what they already heard? >> i would love to meet senator mccain in person. i would love to shake his hand and have him look directly in my eye and tell me that the army does not search private e-mails. i know that's not true. my story indicates that. my story is that the military violated don't ask, don't tell. they used those to throw me out. that's just one example among hundreds of others of how this policy has been abused and
violated to serve the purposes of the military. it's not there to protect gays and lesbians. it is there to throw them out. this is one more example of it. how senator mccain and our leaders in congress are out of touch with this policy and using partisan interest above national security. this must stop. >> major mike almy, discharged from the united states air force after the military searched his private e-mails while he was serving during the height of insurgency in iraq in 2005, mike, thank you for your activism, your service, thank you for joining us tonight on short notice to respond to senator mccain tonight. >> thanks for having me, rachel. >> we'll see you again tomorrow. we're proud of our excellent blog at mad owblog. and our free podcast is available at i tp tunes. thanks for tuning in with us again tonight. we knew this would be a big show with the don't ask, don't tell vote today. we'll continue to cover this and await the white house's re